Perianth is luckily located in the rarely-a-dull-moment hotspot of Agias Eirinis Square, which buzzes with the comings and goings of shoppers, diners and bar-hoppers. The Acropolis is just a 15-minute walk away.
Athens International is the closest airport, a 50-minute drive from the hotel. Flights arrive here direct from most major European cities and a few further afield. The hotel can arrange taxi transfers on request (from €42 to €62 one-way, depending on the time of travel).
Less than 10 minutes’ walk away, Monastiraki Metro station will open up the city for you. And handily, it’s on blue line three, which ferries people between the city and the airport. It’s worth splurging on the ‘tourist ticket’, which lasts for three days and includes all public transport around Athens, plus a return trip to the airport.
Attempting to drive in Athens will give you the disconsolate look of a Greek tragedy mask, and the related drama. Motorcyclists bob and weave through the fray, many seem colourblind to traffic lights and you run the risk of being rear-ended by impatient drivers at a yellow light. Metro links are good and the city is made for walking, so you’ll get along fine without a car, but if you do need to hire wheels, you can do so at the airport; parking is 400 metres from the hotel and costs €27 for 24 hours (the car park closes in the early hours).
If you’ve been island hopping, your ferry will likely drift back into Athens’ main port at Piraeus, which is a 30-minute drive from the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Even one of the world’s oldest cities can learn a few new tricks, and Athens has been defibrillated by a cultural and social scene that’s still gaining momentum. Agias Eirinis Square is where you can see this in action, as groups gather for coffee, wine or cocktails, hop from shop to shop, compare notes about souvlaki joints, or simply stroll by grand neoclassical buildings in the sunshine. But, even in the midst of gentrified glamourisation, there are vestiges of the past left: a few flower stalls hungover from its time as the floral market, a quaint as-it-was haberdashery store to the north side, and the Byzantine Church which once acted as Athens cathedral. And, each Sunday, you can dig around for first-edition books, vintage vinyl and antique religious icons – alongside modern pieces from local artisans and items of more dubious origin – at the Monastiraki flea market. Ermou Street (two blocks from the hotel) runs from Syntagma Square to Thission – an expensive walk due to the many high-street and indie shops along that stretch, plus the Hondos Centre, a paean to all things beauty. Head blindly any which way south and you’ll hit something historic: the ancient Agora, Roman Forum, and the Acropolis citadel. To reach the latter you’ll cross through the charmingly cobbled Plaka neighbourhood, which is home to the romantically named Tower of the Winds, and the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments (any tsampouna players in the house?), and Athens’ oldest still-standing residence: Benizelos Mansion, which was built in the 18th century. And, the tiny community of Anafiotika – a ‘secret’ neighbourhood built illegally by Cycladic immigrants – which is notable for its island-style cubic architecture and bougainvillea-lined alleys. After worshipping at the altars of the various gods represented in the Acropolis, stop by the workshop of Stavros Mellissinos – the late poet-shoemaker of Athens – his son has since taken over, but Stavros’ legacy lives on in beautifully crafted footwear and silver-tongued words. Within 20 minutes’ walk east of the hotel lies the Benaki Museum and Museum of Cycladic Art – both of which show the richness of Greece’s cultural heritage, while the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) shows its ongoing legacy. Come evening, roll up at one of Athens’ many outdoor cinemas: Thision or Cine Paris, both of which have the Acropolis in the background; or Zephyros (35 Troon), which has a less formal, arthouse café feel. Or seek out a truly spectacular sundowner with a drive out to Cape Sounion (around an hour’s journey); the Aegean panorama from the headland is made all the dreamier with the ruins of a temple to Poseidon.
Hippocrates – the father of modern medicine – said ‘Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food’; we say, ‘no’. Live in the now for Athens’ dining scene, which is reliably good, from the most unassuming hole in the wall to Michelin-starred heavyweights. Start off with a traditional feast at Taverna Saita (21 Kidathineon), a surprisingly authentic eatery in Plaka, where decent eats can be harder to hunt down. Here, classics such as pastitsio, aubergine with feta and lemony lamb chops are served in old-school surrounds – in summer tables set outside let you admire Plaka’s picturesqueness. A more modern option in the neighbourhood – albeit only open at lunchtime – is Nolan, a stripped-back eatery with Japanese-Greek fusion fare. Mash-ups such as prawn and bonito in rice paper with yuzu, a cod bao burger, or octopus salad spiked with rice vinegar. And, yes, it is named after the Inception director. Botrini’s bridges the gap between Athens’ back-in-the-day dining and fast-forward culinary thinking; its menu and methods may be modern, but dishes are heavily inspired by chef Ettore Botrini’s Corfiot childhood and use generation-to-generation ingredients. So, you’ll try wild-mushroom macarons with five-spice, milk-fed lamb with a miso-fig pie, and peach and hibiscus pastries.
Sure, the Greeks gave the world democracy, geometry, philosophy and a bunch of other stuff – but, they also brought us Kostas souvlaki (2 Agias Irinis). This hole in the wall only operates from 8am to 3.30pm and only peddles cartons of pita-wrapped meat and vegetables, but it’s flavourful, grilled to juicy perfection and only costs €2; Kostas is the sole employee manning the grill for quality management and works to his grandfather’s recipe. Follow that with an equally hand-holdable koulouri (a sort of savoury, sesame-covered doughnut) from carb-master Koulouri of Psirri (23 Karaiskaki), or dessert of sticky-sweet loukoumades (honey- and-cinnamon-dipped dough balls) at Krinos (87 Aiolou), a café set in a beautiful antique building that was Athens’ first pharmacy.
As with eateries, nightlife ranges from the ‘have an ouzo with a handful of old-timers’ to ‘design-led drinking with Athens’ young and beautiful’ – both have their appeal. For the former, try Diporto (9 Socratous), one of Athens’ oldest taverns, where the entrance is a bit of a misdirect (there’s no sign), full wine barrels line the walls, and you may be encouraged to share your table with strangers. And on the other end of the spectrum is 6 D.o.g.s, a cultural centre, bar and nightclub whose secret bohemian garden has swing chairs, sandy floors and candles in mason jars.